Young basketball prospects have a new, enticing path to the NBA which could create ripple effects for NCAA basketball, international leagues and prep schools in the process. On Thursday, projected 2021 top-five NBA Draft pick Jalen Green announced that he NBA G League initiative that will reportedly pay him more than $500,000 to train and compete on a Southern California team specifically constructed for elite prospects. On Friday, former Michigan recruit Isaiah Todd announced he would follow the same path.in order to participate in a new
The financial benefits for players are obvious -- in addition to their salaries, they are also eligible for lucrative endorsement deals by turning professional rather than enrolling in college. It's a significant investment for the NBA, which has long been trying to find a way to funnel young prospects into the G League rather than college or overseas.
The other way to achieve this goal would be to simply allow players to enter the NBA Draft straight out of high school, an option that was eliminated in 2006 but was gaining steam over the past few years, with reports suggesting that the "one-and-done" rule could be eliminated as soon as 2021. If that were the case, the G League system the league has recently set up would essentially be rendered useless.
It appears, however, that players entering the NBA straight out of high school is much farther off than we may have thought. On "The Woj Pod," ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski explained why the talks on eliminating the one-and-done rule have come to a standstill:
A lot of us believed a year ago, 18 months ago, that the NBA and the player's association would come to an agreement on ending the one-and-done -- they would set a date in the future, but we thought it would be 2022, 2023 when high school players would be able to go back in the draft. That has not happened. It is not on the horizon, largely because the union and the league, as part of letting the high school players back into the draft, the league has wanted players to have to make available their physicals and medical evaluations to all teams ... The union, backed very hard by the agents, had said, 'That's not something we're gonna give in on. We're not going to give you full access medically. That's the one advantage that we feel we have as agents and players to control the process.'
That's been the major sticking point for a couple of years now. And there's a real strong possibility that the one-and-done conversation isn't picked up again until the next collective bargaining agreement in 2025.
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress, who joined Wojnarowski on the podcast, agreed that the conversation is "stalled" at the moment, adding that the motivation to end the one-and-done rule isn't necessarily there for many league executives:
The appetite among NBA teams for eliminating this rule, I'm not sure exactly if it's there right now. Talking to GMs and executives, I think that they've made it clear to their owners that they aren't in any rush whatsoever right now to eliminate one-and-done. They like the way that things are set up right now with players going to college for a year, or going to Australia or now the G League.
These reports certainly make it sound like high school players once again being allowed to go straight to the NBA will not happen any time soon, so it makes sense that the league would roll out its new development program now -- particularly with college seasons in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic. With Green, Todd and maybe more as test cases next year, the G League path could become routine for elite recruits moving forward if heading straight to the NBA continues to be off the table.